"Reviving the American tradition of liberty"

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*      Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. – John Adams (1814)

*     Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. - Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Nicholas, 1803

"*     I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That "all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people."  To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.  - Thomas Jefferson

*      Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government. – James Madison

*      To maintain the ascendancy of the Constitution over the lawmaking majority is the great and essential point on which the success of the [American] system must depend; unless that ascendancy can be preserved, the necessary consequence must be that the laws will supersede the Constitution; and, finally, the will of the Executive, by influence of its patronage, will supersede the laws ... -- John C. Calhoun (1782-1850)

*      They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

*      Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none. – Thomas Jefferson

*      A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. – Thomas Jefferson (1801)

*      The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. – Thomas Jefferson

*      Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty. – Thomas Jefferson

*      If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. – Samuel Adams

*      The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. – Thomas Jefferson (1781)

*      Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!   -Patrick Henry to the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1775

*      To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical. – Thomas Jefferson

*      Those who expect to reap the benefits of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. – Thomas Paine

*      Government at its best is a necessary evil, and at its worst, an intolerant one. – Thomas Paine

*      I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. – Thomas Jefferson (1800)

*      The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people. – George Washington

*      I have ever deemed it fundamental for the United States never to take active part in the quarrels of Europe. Their political interests are entirely distinct from ours.  Their mutual jealousies, their balance of power, their complicated alliances, their forms and principles of government, are all foreign to us. They are nations of eternal war. – Thomas Jefferson (1823)

*      America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She well knows that by enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standards of freedom. – John Quincy Adams (1821)

*      An Avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. – Thomas Paine

*      God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it. – Daniel Webster (1834)

*      Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. – Thomas Paine (1776)

*      If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government that is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. – James Madison

*      Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself.  Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? – Thomas Jefferson (1801)

*      Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. – Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

*      In matters of Power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. – Thomas Jefferson

*      The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests. – Patrick Henry

*     The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills. – Thomas Jefferson

*      If we were directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we would soon want for bread. – Thomas Jefferson

*      There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation. – James Madison

*      Where is it written in the Constitution, in what section or clause is it contained, that you may take children from their parents and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battle in any war in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it? – Daniel Webster

*      When all government, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the Center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated. – Thomas Jefferson

*      I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. – Thomas Jefferson

*      On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. – Thomas Jefferson

*      When the government fears the people, it is liberty. When the people fear the government, it is tyranny. – Thomas Paine

*      The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases. – Thomas Jefferson

*      Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any body of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. – Noah Webster

*      I believe the states can best govern our home concerns and the federal government our foreign ones. – Thomas Jefferson

*      The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits. – Thomas Jefferson

*      A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody. – Thomas Paine

*      These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated. – Thomas Paine

*      I have thought that a man of tolerable abilities may work great changes if he first forms a good plan and makes the execution of that same plan his whole study and business. – Benjamin Franklin

*      The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but the newspapers. – Thomas Jefferson

*      Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness. – George Washington

*      I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive. – Thomas Jefferson

*      Resistance to tyranny is service to God. – James Madison

*      Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day. But a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly proves a deliberate systematic plan of reducing us to slavery. – Thomas Jefferson

*      The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but a swindling futurity on a large scale. – Thomas Jefferson

*      Democracies have been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death. – James Madison

*      The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. – Thomas Jefferson

*      It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood, if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be like tomorrow. – James Madison, Federalist Paper #62

*      If there be any among us who wish to dissolve the Union or to change its Republican form, let them stand undisturbed, as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. – Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address

*      Experience [has] shown that, even under the best forms [of government], those entrusted with power have, in time and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. – Thomas Jefferson 1779

*      The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. –Benjamin Franklin

*      In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance. – Thomas Jefferson, 1824

*      The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches, and we must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good. – Thomas Jefferson

*      I shall exert every faculty I possess in aiding to prevent the Constitution from being nullified, destroyed, or impaired; and even though I should see it fail, I will still, with a voice feeble, perhaps, but earnest as ever issued from human lips, and with extinguish, call on the people to come to its rescue. – Daniel Webster

*      Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few … No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. – James Madison

*      Government ought to be as much open to improvement as anything which appertains to man, instead of which it has been monopolized from age to age, by the most ignorant and vicious of the human race. Need we any other proof of their wretched management, than the excess of debts and taxes with which every nation groans, and the quarrels into which they have precipitated the world? – Thomas Paine

*      The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere. – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1846), U.S. President, Letter to Abigail Adams, 22 February 1787

*      To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. .I place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared. – President Thomas Jefferson

*      It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part. – Benjamin Franklin

*      No nation was ever ruined by trade. – Benjamin Franklin

*      My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. – Thomas Jefferson.

*      If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so. – Thomas Jefferson

*      The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted. – James Madison (1751-1836)

*      If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny. – Thomas Jefferson

*      An elective despotism was not the government we fought for. – Thomas Jefferson

*      I cannot undertake to lay my finger upon an article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. – James Madison

*      Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add "within the law," because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual. – Thomas Jefferson

*      Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry. – Thomas Jefferson

*      To say that a bad government must be established for fear of anarchy is really saying that we should kill ourselves for fear of dying. – Richard Henry Lee (1732- 1794), Member of Continental Congress, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Senator

*      The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature … the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war. – James Madison (1751-1836), 4th U.S. President

*      If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. – James Madison (1751-1836), 4th U.S. President

*      It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government. – Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

*      The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure. – George Washington

*      Where Liberty dwells, there is my country. – Benjamin Franklin

*      Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure. --Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823. ME

*      Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to F. W. Gilmer, 1816

*      Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. – Thomas Jefferson

*      Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated. – Thomas Jefferson

*      With respect to the words "general welfare," I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. – James Madison

*      When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself public property. – Thomas Jefferson

*      The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite. – Thomas Jefferson

*      That measures of this nature [military conscription] should be debated at all in the councils of a free government is cause of dismay. The question is nothing less than whether the most essential rights of personal liberty shall be surrendered and despotism embraced in its worst form. – Daniel Webster

*      Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. – Thomas Jefferson

*      It is our true policy to steer clear of entangling alliances with any portion of the foreign world. The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. – George Washington

 

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